It turns out the third times the charm instead of three strikes you’re out for cookies this week. Yesterday was national crème brûlée day, but crème brûlée is not at the top of my desserts list. Just as I prefer baking cakes and cookies to other desserts (pies), I also prefer eating cakes and cookies to other desserts (custard). So, I tried my hand at baking crème brûlée cookies.
What comes to mind when you hear the word “custard”? I think of an eggy pudding. I have a friend, who requested I refer to her as Ms. Cleveland Cupcakes (a whole other story), tell me about a phone conversation she recently had with a man who lives in Wisconsin. The heat wave must have caused him to crave a frozen dessert because he asked her, “Do you have custard down there?” To him, custard referred to a frozen, soft-serve ice cream like treat. Ms. Cleveland Cupcakes told me she wished she would have replied, “Do you have barbecue up there?”
Crème Brûlée is custard royalty whose trademark is a caramelized sugar crown. The common French term for the dessert, crème brûlée, is also be known as crema catalana (Spanish) and burnt cream (English). A traditional recipe calls for only egg yolks, sugar, and cream, though flavors, like vanilla, can be added to the recipe.
In an episode of Five Ingredient Fix, hostess Claire Robinson popped the cork on a bottle of champagne and said something to the effect of she loves that sound because it means something good is about to happen. I think that also applies when you hear the crack of a spoon’s edge against the hardened sugar breaking through to the sweet goodness below.
I made the crème brûlée cookie dough using a half-box, about ¼ cup, of powdered instant pudding mix. I pressed a tablespoon lightly into the dough to make a well for the crème brûlée filling. Spraying the back of the spoon with non-stick cooking spray will make this step go more smoothly.
I cheated on the crème brûlée filling, using the remaining powdered instant pudding mix whisked with heavy cream to fill the cookies. The soft-set directions on the box will also work if you prefer to use milk rather than cream. The yellow color of my filling is a result of using the French Vanilla rather than traditional vanilla flavor.
I made fairly large cookies, so the yield was just under a dozen at eleven cookies. To make more cookies, simply reduce their size like you would if baking thumbprint cookies. (Thumbprint cookies get their name from the process of making a well by pressing the pad of the thumb into their centers.)
Finishing the cookies required more improv (i.e. more cheating). I do not own a torch, so I thought about caramelizing sugar on top of the cookies by placing them under the broiler. I decided I did not trust my oven to give a consistent broil across the tops, so I skipped the toasting sugar step an went straight to the caramel. Since crème caramel (i.e. flan) is a relative to crème brûlée, I figured this was more than acceptable.
I heated one caramel for each cookie with cream to my desired consistency over low heat, whisking constantly to ensure the caramel sauce did not burn. I then spooned the sauce into pools over the cookies. A very reasonable substitute is the caramel sauce used for topping ice cream.
These cookies are delicious when eaten warm, though the filling gets a bit gummy with time. All in all, I was happy to finally experience a bit of cookie success this week. Hooray for Crème Brûlée!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 – 3.4 ounce package vanilla pudding mix, divided
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ¼ to ½ cup heavy cream
- 10-12 individually wrapped caramels (unwrapped)
- Whisk together the flour and baking soda and set aside.
- Cream the butter and the sugars together.
- Add half of the instant pudding mix, about ¼ cup, and beat until well blended.
- Add the egg and the vanilla and continue to beat.
- Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining half of the instant pudding mix with cream to desired consistency. The mixture will be very thick.
- Use an ice cream scoop to drop cookie dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
- Use the back of a tablespoon coated with non-stick cooking spray to press into the center of each dollop of dough, creating a well.
- Fill the well with the thick pudding mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown. The filling will jiggle a bit when the cookies are removed from the oven.
- In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the caramels with a small amount of cream depending on desired consistency. Stir constantly until fully melted and smooth.
- Spoon a pool of caramel sauce onto each cookie.